Tuesday, January 10, 2006

10 Teveth 5766 (fast day)/10 January 2006


Since it is a fast day, in place of ordinary weird things, I am posting a list of religious questions I have devised. This should give you some idea of my theological thinking. Do no be surprised if you know the answer to none of them; none of these are trivial or common knowledge. If you cannot read Hebrew where it is used, you are unlikely to have the answer, so do not worry about it. If anyone knows the answer to any of these questions, I would be very appreciative.


Is there any religion other than Judaism which claims a mass revelation (i.e., the number of people to which a deity reveals him/herself simultaneously is greater than one, preferably much greater than one)?
(Note 1: At least one reference is required, preferably at the verse level.)
(Note 2: Religions claiming to supersede another religion cannot simply claim the mass revelation of a religion they claim to supersede. Likewise, religions claiming that another religion is merely a corrupt version of them may not claim the mass revelation of the religion they claim is a corrupt version of them.)

דּברים כ״ה י״ט: וְהָיָ֡ה בְּהָנִ֣יחַ ה֣׳ אלה֣׳ךָ ׀ לְ֠ךָ מִכָּל־אֹ֨יְבֶ֜יךָ מִסָּבִ֗יב בָּאָ֨רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֽ׳־א֠לה׳ךָ נֹתֵ֨ן לְךָ֤ נַֽחֲלָה֙ לְרִשְׁתָּ֔הּ תִּמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לֹ֖א תִּשְׁכָּֽח׃
תּהִלּים קמ״ה ז׳: זֵ֣כֶר רַב־טֽוּבְךָ֣ יַבִּ֑יעוּ    וְצִדְקָֽתְךָ֥ יְרַנֵּֽנוּ׃
הֲישׁ גִּרסת תּנ״ך אשׁר נִמצא בַּפּסוּקים הָאלּה הנֻּסּח ״זֶכֶר״ ולֹא ״זֵכֶר״?

Why is the ordering of תּנ״ך from בּבא בּתרא י״ד ע״ב never used?

How can one distinguish experimentally or observationally whether one lives in a universe with free will or one where everything is strictly predetermined?

Is there any religion which claims the existence of more than one uncreated deity?

The soul is probably not a separate enitity from the brain because all of a person’s mental functions are demonstrably exorably linked to the brain. If they were not, brain damage would not affect one’s mental functions at all. Is there any empirical evidence to the contrary?

According to those who believe in reincarnation, the soul after death may resurface in another body. Given that there is no empirical evidence that anyone has memories from a past life, what do these people believe survives between lives?

Can anyone provide any useful suggestions for getting around the problem of confounding effects in testing the just-world hypothesis?

If the Documentary Hypothesis is true, there should have been groups which did not accept the redacted Torah but clung to J, E, P, or D. Is there any record of any such group ever existing?

Some religions deify nature or natural phenomena. This is problematic since the natural world gives every indication of being not sentient but rather purely mechanical and thus not suitable for worship. How does one realistically circumvent this problem?

Theism is in principle demonstrable, since empirically demonstrable prophecy is conceivable. However, what can an atheist do to demonstrate that no god exists? Even if one is convinced based on the structure and workings of the universe that no material deity exists, (so far as we can tell), we are not empowered to observe anything outside our own physically reality. Therefore, how can one distinguish experimentally or observationally between atheism, deism, covert panenthesim (immanent theism), and covert transcendent theism?
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